Happy Thursday to everyone, but especially the folks over at Timberline Mountain, who have worked hard to open 17 of the possible 20 trails it has for skiing and riding today.
The mountain got about a foot of natural snow on Tuesday, and the team is still riding that high. The open terrain has been groomed for a packed powder surface, and snowmaking mounds have been pushed out on Twister.
We’ve got even more trails opening later today, as the team projects that Upper Almost Heaven will open up later today.
Thunderstruck and White Lightning will both be open for those who like it steep and deep. Off The Wall and The Drop are still closed at this time. The Snow Squall and Thunder Snow terrain parks are both open, though Thunder Snow does not have any features at this time.
And congratulations to the Omni Homestead team: that ski area opens up today, and will be open from Thursdays through Sundays weekly, for the time being.
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, something wacky comes along in skiing and introduces itself. This year’s first sighting: double blue square trails at Big Sky Resort in Montana.
— The Storm Skiing Journal & Podcast (@StormSkiJournal) December 20, 2023
Apparently, this isn’t brand new. Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in Wyoming is famous for having this trail grade rating, and it’s important for just what you might think – letting the skier know that the trail they are entering is tougher than your average blue square run.
Here’s what representatives from the resort told Powder Magazine.
While there’s no perfect solution to accurately represent the terrain Big Sky offers, we recognized a gap in our rating system. The inconsistencies started with some of our green runs, such as Safari and El Dorado. Given their steeper headwalls, we realized they would be better represented as intermediate terrain (blue). This created a cascading effect, as some terrain historically rated as a single blue, such as Elk Park Ridge and Ambush, would need a recalibration to double blue/advanced intermediate to reflect their steeper pitch accurately. Additionally, non-groomed, gladed runs such as Congo and White Witch are now rated double blue.”
Last-Minute Holiday Shopping
Did you put off your holiday shopping? Don’t worry, we all do it from time to time. But with just three days to go, I’m here to help guide you through some options for last-minute gifts for the skier and snowboarder in your life.
This is as easy of a gift as it goes, and with the quick-shipping options from online retailers, you might have it in your possession and wrapped later today. Here are some of my favorite books for ski bums:
- Powder Days by Heather Hansman
- In Search of Powder by Jeremy Evans
- Unbound by Steph Jagger
- The Art of Shralpanism by Jeremy Jones.
- DEEP: The Story of Skiing and The Future of Snow by Porter Fox
- Freedom Found by Warren Miller
Look, it isn’t the most glamorous gift to receive, but every time I’m sitting on a chairlift an a single-digit day or freezing in my sleeping bag during an overnight camping trip, I’m glad that someone spent an extra $5 for this stocking stuffer. Nowadays, companies make rechargeable versions, which provides warmth for longer and cuts down on the amount of waste we produce.
Logo gear from your local ski and snowboard shop
Not a day goes by that I don’t regret failing to purchase a World Boards hat in Bozeman, Montana. Local shops are pretty creative now, selling everything from coasters for your drinks, to the typical hats, hoodies and t-shirts, to signs to hang on your wall.
And stickers! Skiers and riders love stickers. If the day comes when ski and board shops are unable to give away free stickers, that means I am dead.
I don’t know many skiers and snowboarders who can tune their own gear, but you can’t start without the proper tools.
We probably already have what you’re going to give us. There’s also a high likelihood that the version we already own has a hole worn through, and we’re too stubborn to replace it.
This is more for the snowboarder in your life, but there has been no greater value add to my life on the slopes that the Union Bindings pocket screwdriver I keep in my pants pocket. When something comes loose mid-run, they’ll be thanking you.
Lastly, I know I’ve been preaching patience over the next couple of weeks with all of the holiday skiers coming to town, but Discord user Mtns2sea put it more eloquently than I could:
For us “locals” we need to remember that these ridiculous holiday crowds, traffic, and lift lines pay for the rest of the season and those uncrowded weekdays. The people coming from Florida and Georgia during the holidays make the rest of the season possible so be good ambassadors for our mountain communities. Merry Christmas everyone.”
And with that, let’s get into what we need to know around the Southeast today.
In part because they opened later than other resorts and in part because of the size of the operation, Ski Sapphire slipped my mind a bit, beyond announcing the opening day. But a Discord user said last night that the staff is “really already just killing it this season with snowmaking,” and I popped over to the ski area’s website and checked the webcam.
It’s a heck of a Thursday out there, and the corduroy looks ripe for the taking this morning.
The new Peak Express quad lift makes its debut today, according to Massanutten’s Kenny Hess. It’s a beautiful day in the 40s to make some turns.
If you’re out in Virginia, you might experience an inversion at Massanutten. As Meimei Ma (known as MarzNC on the Discord channel) pointed out to me yesterday, that’s when it’s 30 degrees in the valley, but too warm on the mountain for snowmaking. But the mountain is in good company: Jackson Hole, Wyoming can sometimes experience the same phenomenon.
A huge shoutout to Discord user SendItJerry (real name, Rob) for already getting 16 days on the mountain under his belt. He was at Sugar yesterday, and true to his namesake, sent it off of a rock at the request of the group.
Tom Terrific, Northridge, Switchback, Upper Flying Mile, Big Birch, and Oma’s Meadow are open for business today at Sugar. It’s been cold there lately, but like usual this year, the temperatures are starting to rise for the weekend. It’ll top out in the 50s from now until next Thursday.
All three terrain parks – Meadows, Upper Powder Bowl and Lower Powder Bowl – are open at Beech today.
Just a reminder that while last week was the first ladies night of the season, it will resume on January 4. There will be no men’s nights, ladies’ nights, or student nights from now until New Years Day.
Thanks to everyone that has already joined us on Discord.
Click here to join us on our new SkiSoutheast Discord channel. It is a great way to meet new snow loving friends and shares experiences, ask questions, and more!
And as always, email me at [email protected] with your thoughts and photos. I want to see powder day pictures!
Keep skiing the southeast.